Fishermen may defy new EU regulations

North Sea fishermen have said they may not immediately defy new EU regulations which came into force on Sunday.

Although boats will be allowed to catch more haddock than last year, they will be given no extra time to do it. The new rules were agreed by EU fisheries ministers in December and recognise that North Sea haddock stocks are at their healthiest for 30 years.

UK fisheries ministers are reluctant to press for expanding the time limit. The Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association says skippers may work 24 instead of the allowed 15 days a month. But they have said they will “probably” fish within the rules for the next few months while seeking a better deal.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: “Arrangements are in place, and we do not anticipate any major problems with the haddock permit system which comes into operation today.”

She stressed: “It is an offence to catch more than the allocated quota.”
Scotland’s deputy fisheries minister Allan Wilson said earlier this week he was “pulling out all the stops” to secure a better deal.

When the deal was brokered last year, ministers declared it was worth £20m to Scotland as it increased North Sea haddock quotas by 53% and allowed fishermen to catch 30% more prawns.